The Wall Street Coach (646) 420-2099

It’s About Trust

-Guest Blog Post by V. David Schwantes, Grandfather, Husband, Author, Blogger, Former Business Executive and U.S. Marine.  Follow him on

Now and then I deliver remarks to business groups; and I begin by asking them to take out a business card. They’re very good at that. Expanding a personal network is good for a career. I ask them to write on the back of their card a five-letter word that goes to the essence of mutually supportive and enduring relationships.

At the end of my remarks we return to those business cards. I tell them the magic word is—trust. Guess how many of them had written that word on their cards? You’re right—not many. Yet trust is the essential ingredient of mutually-supportive and enduring relationships. Perhaps that’s too obvious; but it’s also too important to be hidden in the recesses of our minds.

What I’d really like them to do is have them write the word trust 500 times; like grade-schoolers once had to do on their classroom backboards. We have a lot of people who need to write the word trust 500 times, over and over again.

Instead I ask them to write the word “trust” on the back of their cards along with the date, put their cards in their wallets, and keep them there for review for one year. Some do it and have thanked me for the suggestion; too many do not.

Now we wonder why the Tea Partiers and the Wall Street Occupiers are so angry. It’s simple—they feel violated by those they trusted. The Partiers have lost their trust in government. The Occupiers have lost their trust in business. They may be more outspoken than most of us, but distrust is pervasive throughout our society.

Economies don’t work well without trust, neither does government. Trust makes society cohesive and peaceful and productive. Yet we’re more inclined to USe each other; and we’re even disposed to abUSe each other. We neglect the building of trust, and we do so at our peril.

We don’t trust banks, or financial statements. We don’t trust Congress or politicians. We don’t trust sales people, or corporations, or auditors, or lawyers, or credit-rating agencies. We don’t trust regulators, or lobbyists, or insurance companies. We don’t trust our neighbors (so we have 280 million guns in our homes). We don’t trust “foreigners” or anyone who doesn’t think or look or behave or believe exactly as we do.

The Partiers and the Occupiers have this distrust complaint in common even though they have no trust in each other.

A dozen decades ago there were 1.5 billion people in the world. In four more decades, there could be more than 10.0 billion. Our margin for error is shrinking. From 2000 to 2050, theUnited Statesalone will spend more than $40 trillion on “defense.” Because we don’t trust!

A world much more crowded and armed with missiles; or a world with much improved levels of trust? In which direction do we want to go?

Want to make a difference? Take out your business card, write “trust” on the back and put it back in your wallet. And insist on leaders who are trustworthy!

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